Trump Administration Wises Up on Census—No New Racial Categories
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The Trump Administration appears to have decided not to implement two changes in Census race/ethnic categories recommended by the Obama Administration. The federal government’s race categories really do socially construct a lot of future politics, so it’s smart not to trust the other side to have your interests at heart.

From NPR:

2020 Census To Keep Racial, Ethnic Categories Used In 2010

January 26, 20187:06 AM ET

Hansi Lo Wang

What proportion of reporters assigned to the ethnicity, immigration, Census-type beats have extremely foreign names? It sure seems like a lot.
A Census Bureau announcement about the race and ethnicity questions for the 2020 census suggests the Trump administration will not support Obama-era proposals to change how the U.S. government collects information about race and ethnicity, census experts say.

If approved, the proposals would change how the Latino population is counted and create a new checkbox on federal surveys for people with roots in the Middle East or North Africa. …

These are complex technical question that have far-reaching implications that nobody particularly understands. For example, what % of Jews would stop identifying as white and start identifying as MENA? That seems like an interesting question, much like the decision a generation ago to switch Indians from Caucasian to the same group as East Asians is turning out to be more momentous than it seemed at the time. But, as far as I can tell, nobody has a clue.
So far, though, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, which sets the standards for race and ethnicity data for federal agencies, has not released any decisions. …

Still, on Friday, the Census Bureau’s head of the 2020 census, Albert Fontenot, announced the upcoming national headcount will keep the same racial and ethnic categories used for the 2010 census. …

At the bureau’s public meeting on 2020 census preparations, the chief of the bureau’s population division, Karen Battle, said that a new category for people with roots in the Middle East or North Africa, or MENA, will not be added to the 2020 questionnaire because more research is needed.

Battle cited public comments the bureau has received saying that MENA should be treated not as an option for race but for ethnicity, which she says the bureau has not specifically tested so far.

Because everybody from the Middle East / North Africa is one big happy ethnicity. They make Hispanics seem divisive by contrast. They all … uh … find baklava tasty!
But the Census Bureau has now submitted a request to go back to two separate questions with no checkbox for “Middle Eastern or North African.” …

Other census watchers say they’re disappointed that the Trump administration appears to have decided to not follow the recommendations of Census Bureau staffers who spent years researching how to collect more accurate race and ethnicity data.

“The decision to ignore years of research and the expert advice of scientists is a blow to science and the collection of the best data possible,” said Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, in a written statement.

Dear President Trump: Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, is not your friend. He does not have your best interests at heart.

The Trump Administration has done the prudent thing here.

For the future, Republicans really need to invest in researching these questions. Republicans tend to be averse to thinking intelligently about race category design, so they end up getting rolled a lot by those who do.

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